As the climate changes, countries like Liberia face tremendous challenges in building resilience against shocks. Rising sea level, soaring temperatures and increased rainfall hit the most vulnerable, particularly rural population, the hardest.
People’s livelihoods in both agriculture and fisheries suffer from flooding, erosion and irregular weather patterns.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) says it remains committed to working and partnering with the Government of Liberia to respond to some of the ever increasing challenges in tackling vulnerabilities associated with issues of climate change.
UNDP applauds the National Legislature for its ratification of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. The Paris Agreement which was signed in 2016 by 193 countries globally, is championing the case for reducing emissions and greenhouse gas activities well below 2 degrees Celsius to help protect the environment and its people.
The Senate took the decision based on a recommendation by its Foreign Relations Committee, which says the instrument is in the interest of the state. “After reviewing and critically analyzing the Paris Agreement, Liberia stands to benefit financial and technological support in maintaining low climate resilience through effective adaptation and greenhouse gas emission reduction,” the committee headed by Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais says.
All countries were expected to ratify the agreement and begin its implementation based on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) submitted by member countries.
In the case of Liberia, progress has been slow until recently, when the Liberian government through the National Legislature made that bold step to ratify the agreement with the support of UNDP and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that jointly facilitated this process.
UNDP funded study tours to Ghana for a 9 member delegation from the EPA, Ministry of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the National Legislature including the chairpersons on environment and natural resources. The tours provided opportunity for the Legislators and other government officials to interact with their Ghanaian counterparts. They discussed pertinent issues relating to climate change adaptation and its associated challenges and opportunities. They also had the opportunity to observe some of the climate resilient activities being undertaken in Ghana
Now that the Government of Liberia has joined the global community in prioritizing climate change by ratifying the Paris Agreement, UNDP sees the move as a “milestone achievement”.
“This is a milestone achievement which comes at a time when the government is putting together a new agreement to frame its national development agenda” says UNDP Liberia Country Director Pa Lamin Beyai.
According to Dr. Beyai, the signing of the agreement represents a significant step for Liberia from the standpoint of a vulnerable nation, already incurring flooding, sea erosion, storms, climate induced food insecurity and other symptoms of warming.
Right now, more than half of Liberians live below the poverty line and climate change could exacerbate the situation.
The Paris Accord also provides an opportunity for significant portions of climate funding toward adaptation, for a country like Liberia.
Adaptation funds can be spent on agriculture resilience to enhance productivity and food security, coastal defense to safeguard livelihoods and income of coastal communities, and disaster preparedness to improve disaster management and limit economic and social losses; all of which favor poor and vulnerable people.
Dr. Beyai has pledged UNDP’s continued support to the government of Liberia through the EPA. “We are working with national counterparts on several initiatives aimed at responding to disasters, mitigating risks and building resilience to natural hazards” intimated UNDP Country Director.
Currently, UNDP supports the Government of Liberia to advance its National Adaptation Plans process in climate sensitive sectors under the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) Project with funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The project is designed to help strengthen institutional frameworks, policies and coordination and develop natural disaster risk management and reduction strategies in order to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.
UNDP works in close collaboration with the EPA and the National Disaster Management Agency, to build capacities for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into planning, and budgeting processes and systems, and formulating financing mechanisms for scaling-up adaptation, and preparing local communities to protect themselves in the face of disasters.